This series of posts on Australia’s own Wirth’s Circus finishes up today with only a few days left to see our exhibition, Circus Factory. Previous posts have looked at when the Wirth's circus hit the road, how we are exhibiting the Wirth's Circus collection, the family's musical beginnings, the diary of John James Wirth and how the Wirth brothers transformed from band to circus. Photographs and documents in the Museum’s collection reveal the rapid growth of Wirth’s Circus as well as a series of disasters and triumphs they encountered on their first overseas tours.
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The Circus Factory exhibition includes costumes, photographs and documents from the Museum's Wirth's Circus collection. The Wirth name has a special place in Australian circus folklore. Billed as Australia's own 'Greatest Show on Earth', Wirth's Circus toured from 1880 until its demise in 1963.
This advertising sign from the Wirth’s Circus collection is currently on display in the Circus Factory exhibition at the Powerhouse Museum. Wirth’s Circus was founded by the four Wirth brothers around 1880.
After leaving Ridge's Royal Tycoon Circus in 1880 the Wirth brothers established themselves as the Star Troupe of Varieties. With just six artists, including Japanese acrobats and a German comedian, they assembled a program of acrobatics, clowning, contortion, spinning hats, boxing and comic songs.
Diary of John James Wirth, 1879. Gift of the Wirth family, 2012. Collection: Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences. John James Wirth was one of the four brothers who founded Wirth's Circus. One of the gems of the Wirth's Circus collection is his handwritten diary from 1879, describing daily life on tour in northern New South Wales and southern Queensland performing with John Ridge's Royal Tycoon Circus.
Johannes Wirth (1835-1880) was a young immigrant from Bavaria who arrived in Australia in 1855 with his three younger brothers. They were musicians who performed as a German brass band. Johannes took to the life of an itinerant gold seeker, travelling with his wife and infants, following rush after rush to the gold fields, all the way from southern Victoria to the north of Queensland.
When Rill Wirth, the last surviving child of the great circus proprietor Philip Wirth (1864-1937), passed away in 2007, her relatives kindly donated to the Museum a remarkable collection documenting the family's involvement in the business from the 1870s until 1963.